Its hard to convey what this weekend meant to me. I’ll tell you about some of the profound moments I had, but know that this weekend felt like an integral step forward in the process of what I call ‘remembering myself home’.
You see, ever since the first yoga festival I attended when my son turned one, where tears streamed down my face during the entire hour-long satsang, I made a commitment to give myself at least one ‘treat-yo-self’ yoga immersion per year. I find that each time I immerse myself in yoga for a few days at a time, I find myself drenched in serenity, flooded with visions, insights and epiphanies, and remembering some vital part of myself that I had forgotten.
I was so excited for this weekend, not only because of it being my first teacher training module, but because of the topic: Kundalini and Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is what my parents practiced and what I spent so much of my childhood immersed in. Still, even with a lifetime of experience, I don’t think I really “got it” until this weekend.
Having not practiced Kriya in nearly a decade, I found myself in fields of awareness that I had forgotten existed. I experienced massive forward leaps in my meditation practice and personal growth. It was like a jolt of electricity ran through my body and suddenly I jumped to a point in my personal evolution that I didn’t imagine I would reach for years, if not decades. In visiting this way of meditating and exploring my consciousness, I found myself remembering things about my childhood that I had completely forgotten.
I also had the most psychedelic experience of my life, and it was completely natural. Allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is Holotropic Breathwork.
So, its Saturday afternoon during the first module of yoga teacher training. Me, the 17 other trainees, and our teacher Rainbow Eric (oh yeah!) are slated to experience a “Group Breathwork Journey”, according to our schedule. Now, we’ve been meditating and doing lots of yoga together for the last two days, so a “group breathwork journey” seemed like just another activity.
We were guided to lay down and get comfortable, settling in for an hour-long savasana. All 25 of us settled onto the floor with our eye pillows and bolster-fortresses and layers of blankets, ready to chill the fuck out. Eric explains that what we’re about to experience can be intense – that we might move involuntarily, that we might confront difficult emotions or past experiences, and that if at anytime we need extra guidance, to flag him down for support. He mentions that what we’re about to do has the potential to cause a flood of DMT in the body (DMT is a psychedelic compound that is naturally produced by the human body and some plants. Read more about this fascinating stuff here). I don’t think much of it and I settle easily into my mat. We begin a focused breath and soft music begins to play. Aww yisss. I live for this shit.
At first, this seems like any other savasana, but before I know it, I’m going DEEP: All the way in, and farther out than I’ve ever been. I begin to have memories that I haven’t thought of in ages: dreams I had when I was pregnant, moments from my childhood that I had forgoteen, etc. I notice that the slightest changes in my position bring up different memories. I begin to touch each of my fingers to my thumb, and each mudra is like a coordinate for a specific memory. I find that switching back and forth between my index and middle finger takes me back and forth between a moment from giving birth and my son as a baby. I can switch back and forth between the two just by pressing a different finger to my thumb. That’s neat, I think.
I let my hand rest and go further. I’m not thinking about my body. I’m not in my head. I’m just fully experiencing the moment – breathing deep and slow and delicious, body totally surrendered to gravity and feeling like every cell in my being is lit up from inside.
I hear a symphony of happy, blissful exhales around me and realize that I’m part of the orchestra. Even though each of us is having our own very internal experience, there is a subtle external synthesis between us. Choruses of inhales and extravagant sighs come in waves that roll across the dark, palo santo-scented room.
At one point, my knees begin to shake, and I remember what Eric said about involuntary movements. I remember the time in belly dancing class when our teacher mentioned that we hold our fear of change in our knees. I resist any urges to stop them and just let them shake. The movement begins to travel up my body and it feels like an orgasm. Before I know it, my entire body is vibrating. I’m smiling the widest, cheek-squeezing, joyful smile, feeling my being so incredibly ALIVE, and suddenly I am laughing the loudest, happiest, most blissful laughter I’ve ever laughed, and it sets of a chain reaction around the room. There is an 18-person giggle fit happening and none of us can see each other. My perception of time is completely non-existent, but I estimate this room full of laughter rolled for a good 7 minutes. As it dies down, I begin to cry. Not a sad or painful cry, but just a release. Shaking, to laughing, to crying: its like one orgasm after another, and I feel like I’m processing in minutes what would otherwise take years of therapy or journaling.
I am going even deeper within, and even deeper without. Deeper and deeper in both directions – out in space and into my atoms.
The music that started out as soft and meditative is now fast-paced and dramatic. The music is guiding our experience and I am going so deep and fast that I begin to feel scared and nauseated. I pull away from the nausea and realize I cannot go deeper unless I move through it. I’m afraid of what could happen – the last thing I want to do is throw up, let alone in a room full of people blissfully peacing out.
I lift up my eye pillow and look for Eric – I want help, but he is assisting someone else. I realize I must navigate this alone, and I begin to find my way out through my thoughts, spinning through anxiety and being reminded of the times I smoked too much pot and couldn’t relax. Soon enough, Eric guides us out. I’m relieved. We are instructed to take it easy and slow, and give ourselves time to come back. All I can think about is how badly I need to pee.
I make my way to the bathroom, attempting to hurry, but I feel like I’m wading through molasses. I am so out of my body that I can’t even feel my bare feet on the hardwood floor. Eventually, I make it the 40 feet to the bathroom and sit down to pee. I can’t feel anything. I feel like a mass of particles, not connected in anyway, but just existing in a blissful hum. I begin to pee and finally I can feel sensation – a single ring of warmth where the pee is leaving my body – I feel like I suddenly have a sensory map of the nerves of my urethra (did I mention that TMI is a regular thing I offer?). My body is so relaxed I consider just staying here and melting into the toilet seat.
Someone knocks on the door, so I find my way out of the bathroom. I realize that its been a few minutes since we came out of our journey, but I’m still not back. I feel like I’m just as aware of my existence in 7 other dimensions as you are of your physical body right now. I realize that I have always inhabited these other planes of existence, but this DMT flood I’m experiencing has deconstructed the illusion that glues them all together. I see them like floating, parallel transparencies. A part of me doesn’t want to come back.
I’m used to it taking a minute or two to come all the way back from a meditation or savasana, but this is totally different. Some part of me feels like its not okay that I’m not back in my body all the way yet.
I look for Eric for guidance, and he is talking to Jimi, one of the first takers of my giggle fit invitation. I stay nearby, waiting for them to finish their conversation so that I can be next in line to talk to Eric. I’m desperate for someone to help me ground. As I wait around, I feel weird that I’m just hovering near them, but their conversation is actually helping me. They’re talking about LSD and shrooms and suddenly I have a reference point for much of what I’m feeling. I continue to listen as I hazily peruse the crystal jewelry display behind Jimi – I’m looking for something, anything to help ground me – nothing strikes me. I move on to the essential oils – I settle for a bottle of Wild Orange and inhale deeply, but I’m still SO out there. Why am I feeling so uneasy?
I realize that I no longer hear Eric and Jimi’s conversation, so I turn around, but Eric is nowhere to be found. Whatever look I was wearing on my face must have been telling, because Jimi made eye contact and said “Oh, hey, come here” and brought me in for a warm, tight hug. It was exactly what I needed. We shared a few “Whoa, I’m high as fuck and I didn’t take drugs” exchanges. It was so genuine and comfortable and I suddenly felt like I could be off flying through other star systems and it would be totally cool because Jimi said it was cool.
The group reconvenes and we begin to share experiences. I asked about my experience with nausea, which was still coming in waves, and we discussed emotional states that bring up nausea, and why we experience it with psychedelics. Again, putting something in reference to shrooms or acid makes it all make sense (thanks, wild teenage years!).
After our sharing circle, we are guided to do some more Kriyas, but everytime I begin to run energy through my body, the nausea rears its woozy head again. I also have a headache. I decide to just sit and breathe, trying my best not to follow the words of guidance floating into my ears.
The day is over, and all I want to do is to go back to my Air BnB, shower and pass out, but it’s a Saturday night in downtown Boise and there is a 30-person long line I have to stand in to pay for parking. I do my best to seem normal around the middle-aged theatre-goers that surround me, even though I feel acutely aware of the expansive, formless nature of my being. I wish that in some way I could bestow upon them the knowledge of the infinite state of their being, and how much more there is to life than just this 3D world.
Finally, I get home and shower, eat some leftovers, and pass out. I am fucking spent. I lie in bed, vacillating between how amazing I feel, how shitty I feel, and wondering how the hell I experienced all those amazing feelings just by lying down and breathing.
The next morning, I wake up and all I can think is “I can’t wait to do that again”.